Everyone says you’ll regret having a tattoo? What? Really? Everyone? Probably not, but you may well encounter people who have had them and they’ve regretted them. They exist, I’ve met plenty of them. In my teens I was “advised” against it by numerous people with tattoos. There’s a reason I didn’t listen. I know my own mind, I do my own thing and if I’m going to do something that’s going to represent a big change in my life, I never do it without careful consideration. A tattoo is a life long commitment, don’t make that commitment lightly.
To my mind there are two types of people who will tell you about the regret you will one day feel. People with tattoos and people without. I’ve yet to meet a tattooed person who believes wholeheartedly that tattoos lead to regret, who didn’t get them for the wrong reasons in the first place and I’ve yet to meet somebody without tattoos who has the first clue what they are talking about.
I hate my tattoo, you’ll hate yours…eventually!
Tattoos are not a fashion statement, if you want to be fashionable, buy some new shoes or the latest cool and trendy shirt, perhaps a handbag by the latest in vogue designer will make that statement for you. Whatever other trendy bandwagon you want to take a ride on, make sure you don’t get on the Tattoo Train. There is a simple, obvious reason why this is, yet too many people ignore the reason and do it anyway. Fashion is temporary, you can’t fold up your tattoo and put it away in a drawer when it’s not fashionable anymore. Your tattoo will still be there when some other fad hits town and you’ll be left with a design on your skin that you had because some celebrity had it and you thought they were cool and because all your friends thought it would be cool on you too. Getting tattooed to follow a trend is one pretty sure way to end up regretting it.
Another way to make sure one day you look at your ink and grimace is to do it on a whim. Waking up on Saturday morning and deciding you’re going to get tattooed is bad idea, even worse is then trotting off to the first tattooist you can get a walk in from and getting the nicest bit of flash you can find in your price bracket. You may think nobody is that dumb…yes some people are and yes, I’ve met a few.
There have been numerous “Young Brits abroad” type reality TV programmes covering Ibiza, Aya Napa, Magaluf etc and on these programmes you’ll see drunken teens heading off to the late night tattooist to get whatever they can get for the money in their pocket, because they’ve had too much tequila and it seems like a good idea at the time. Where do I begin on how bad an idea any of that is? Will they regret it later? Probably.
Another bad idea is doing it because all your friends have done it, now that can cover all manner of things. Everything from a football team you play for, the guys you’re in the army with, the girls you go drinking with, even the gang you associate yourself with. Now gangs, I’m going to leave alone, the pressures and motivations behind and symbolism of gang tattoos are complex, opting out isn’t an option for them and I’m not going to pretend to know what that feels like. As for other types of peer pressure related tattoos, you do have a choice. Of course, you may end up getting a bit of stick for not doing it, you’re probably going to get called a chicken but that will pass. What won’t pass is the tattoo you didn’t want, being on your skin. Long after you’ve stopped playing football, you’ll have a tattoo, when your soldiering days are behind you that tattooed reminder will still be there and when the girls are all married with kids and no longer see their old friends very often that permanent reminder of youthful stupidity will still be there to haunt you.
There is one tattoo that leads to more regret than any other, the tattoo that any decent tattooist will advise against before they do it. Getting this tattoo is an open invitation to our old friend regret to come into our lives and set up home with us. So what is it, this harbinger of ink related disaster? It’s the name of your beloved girlfriend, boyfriend, husband or wife. Kids names are fine, you’ll always love your kids but will you always love your significant other? Will they always love you? I’m sure people who have them done think so when they get the tattoo done, but when you look at divorce statistics it’s fair to say that an awful lot of them will be proved wrong and left behind will be the name they won’t want to be reminded of and they certainly won’t want any future love interest to see. You want regret? Get their name tattooed on you.
Oh it most certainly does!
Hands and Fingers, Necks and Nose
Placement of your new tattoo is vital. The design you want may not fit on an arm and making it smaller may ruin it, think very carefully about where you want your tattoo and take your artist's advice as to whether that design will work in the place you want it.
It is well worth considering how that placement will effect other areas of your life, like work. In recent years the popularity of tattoos has gone through the roof and the number of full sleeves, hand, neck and facial tattoos has also greatly increased. Once upon a time full sleeves were the domain of hardcore tattoo devotees, now full sleeves are commonly a first tattoo...and a lot of them look very similar (remember what I said about fashion?). While tattoos are certainly becoming more widely accepted as more and more people get them, consider how that full sleeve will affect your job. Are you going to have to wear long sleeves for the rest of your working life? Do you want to?
Hand, neck and face tattoos require serious consideration and many tattooists won't do them unless you are already heavily tattooed. These tattoos will in most cases not go down well with most employers, even those that don't have an aversion to tattooed employees. If your tattoos stop you earning a living how are you going to pay for more?
So, unless you work in a role where these tattoos are going to have zero effect (like you're a tattooist or you're making a living in a band) you are going to want to think very seriously about it first. Of course, you could wear gloves, a scarf and a gimp mask to cover them up but that might cause you just as many problems as the tattoos do.
My Aunt Mary says I’ll regret it….
The other people who will predict your regret are those wisest of sages, the champions of common sense, the people I call…people who haven’t got tattoos but who always voice their opinions on them, anyway. These people, know precisely nothing. They don’t understand the need to have one, they don't know what it feels like, they don’t understand why we spend money on them, they don’t understand the meanings behind them (if there is one) and I’m not even sure they fully understand why they don’t like them. Above all they fail to understand that their opinions are completely without value.
I like an analogy and so here’s one or two for you. If you were in rehab for heroin addiction who’s opinion would carry more weight, the person who’d been there and got clean or the person who read about it and thought it was a very bad thing and thinks you should stop using? If you’re playing a sport who are you more likely to accept as a coach, the person who played the game or the person who watched it on TV a lot? If you want a tattoo who is better to advise you, the person who did it wrong and hated it, the person who did it right and loves it or the person who has never even considered sitting in the chair but considers themselves an authority on it? If you have the sense, listen to the first two and make up your own mind as for the third….yeh, what about them?
What we know about regret.
Getting tattooed for the wrong reasons is a good way to end up with regrets.
If you want to keep feeling the love for your tattoo, get the right tattoo.
Getting your significant other’s name tattooed on you is a precursor to them running off with the milkman.
People who do end up with regrets, will tell everyone.
People without tattoos have no valid opinion. They will still tell everyone.
Getting to the right decision could and probably should take time.
I really hope this isn't a good likeness.
Tattoos are very personal things, they should be a very personal choice and the decision to get inked or not is yours and yours alone. Getting a tattoo you didn’t want or weren’t sure about, whatever the situation, will almost certainly lead to regret. If you don’t want to regret it…get it done for the right reasons and under the right circumstances or just don’t get it done at all. I picked my first tattoo eight years before I finally got it done. Axl Rose, you know…the slightly famous Guns & Roses guy? He waits a year to get a tattoo done. Make sure you want the design you chose, be content that it’s going to be with you forever. If you can be sure (not half sure, or fairly sure) that what you’ve chosen is for you, twelve months down the line you will still want it.
When you know your mind and your mind says, “Do it!”…THEN you go and find the artist to do it for you.